As a piece of writing, this is kind of a mess. But I think you'll enjoy it, anyway.
Limewire, which I hadn't thought of in years, is dead. Ten years ago, we tried out Napster, but when Limewire came out a little bit later just as the original Napster was taking a dirt nap, I jumped on board and had a good ride for a little while.
Before Lars Ulrich took control of how we discovered new music for awhile, I made some remarkable discoveries through Limewire. One day, I wanted to hear more Bobby Darin music, but there were only limited choices on CD, and I knew there must be something I was missing. Of course, this was before YouTube, certainly before YouTube became what it is today.
I typed Bobby Darin into the search window and saw quite a few names of songs I'd never heard by anyone before. It was very exciting.
When was this, 8 or 9 years ago? We were living in the crazy old house in Rumson, I was using the 2000 Bondi Blue iMac, and for some mysterious reason, I was alone at the time, the first time, I heard this song.
I can't express how it made me feel. It's physical. I've played this song hundreds of times since then, and I still catch my breath when it begins.
My research showed that, at that time, it was available only on out-of-print collections. Same with the next song I fell in love with, which I described as causing me to need to change my clothes.
I searched for other recordings of these songs, and discovered/rediscovered other old recording artists. I learned which orchestra leaders tended toward which style of composition, and how to tell the differences between them. Because of those songs, I embraced a much larger segment of music than before, and began expanding my interests, which, really, were already fairly expansive for someone my age at that time.
So many of us did. File-sharing clients changed the way we discovered new and old music, but more importantly, they allowed us to discover So Much More than ever before.
I never lived near a cool college radio station. I didn't have cable TV when MTV was launched. I didn't gain access to the music I was searching for in my youth until someone introduced me to all the best stuff 1989 had to offer, stuff I'd never known how to find before. The Top 40 was all I was previously allowed to have, as a corporate citizen. And then through the early part of the 90s, we got our cool new music from MTV's 120 Minutes hosted by Dave Kendall. But it got more difficult again for a few years until the web had grown enough for everybody to start sharing with each other.
Until, that is, Lars Ulrich and the record companies tried to put a stop to the collective groove.
Twice in the 80s, my record collection was stolen. Limewire allowed me to find recordings of old favorites that I'd never been able to replace because they were old, out of print, or rare.
Why pay 45 dollars to some random used book store owner for a used recording of something that had once cost me 3.98? And part of me felt that I should not have to pay for them again, because I already had, before someone else took them from me.
Which brings me to Wild Cherry, and "Mint Car."
Remember Wild Cherry?
Yeah, the rest of the album that song is on is just truly awful. But I paid 4 whole dollars for it in 1975 so I could have that song. There was no way for me to know then how the rest of it would sound. So often, a musical group would come up with a good song or two, but the record producer would need them released on an LP, so they put in a lot of schlock filler along with it. You could only be certain an album would be any good if you knew a whole lot about the band first, and even then, it was sometimes a miss. That's why I usually bought 78 cent singles. Other people made fun of me for not buying a lot of LPs, but I couldn't afford all that filler.
Hard to believe, but this was still true in the 90s, for awhile. I mean, take The Cure. What Cure fan won't just buy whatever they call an album? Disintegration? Brilliant. Mixed Up? Yeah, okay, remixes, but really cool ones. That guy can play guitar, man. Wish was different, but darkly fun. But then came Wild Mood Swings. The single "Mint Car" was a hit, but the album tanked.
I think it's because it wasn't "Curish" enough. If you listen to it now, nearly 15 years later, it's really not bad. But it's kind of uneven and not all that inspiring. And even in 1996, which is the year we got the internet at our house, getting to hear that album ahead of time would not be an easy thing to do.
Okay. For years, I didn't understand why all these ladies swooned over Michael Bublé. I didn't want anybody else, someone much younger than me, singing Frank, Dean, and Bobby's hits. And his contemporary pop music, which was all I really knew of him, seemed like romance novel pablum. But at some point, very into comparing everyone's version of "Fly Me To The Moon" or some such old song, I took a fresh listen to Bublé. I think he'd grown up a bit more by this time. And he actually made me sigh. I could tell, you know, he gets it.
Do you think I would have gone out and bought a Michael Bublé recording in this age of ours if I hadn't gotten a very good listen first? No way. But I did, and then I did.
Change is always in a state of acceleration. People who want to make money off everybody else always try to grab onto the latest new thing, define it, control it, repackage it to sell. Well, sure, that's enterprising. But we're moving too fast for most of them these days, and spreading out too far and wide. They hate that we don't really need them to get what we want, but basically, if they will just offer a good product honestly and not seriously piss me off by telling me that is the one way I should own something, I'll still often buy what they're selling. That's how a competitive marketplace works best. It's why I'm willing to pay a monthly fee for satellite radio. Choices spur the economy, not limitations. They don't get to sell me only pre-packaged advertising-sponsored schlock through my car radio anymore, because I get to choose another musical path, in fact, I get to choose several paths, in the car, on the computer, and on TV. And no more paying 15 dollars for a CD to which I've hardly been introduced.
So anyway. The world wide web is a complex and amazing thing. Thanks, Limewire (with a nod to Napster,) for Bobby Darin, and Kay Kendall, and Billy May, for, finally, letting me again hear 24 Groovy Greats, and most importantly, for your part in helping the rest of us get to know each other through the music we love to share. You were stoppable, but really, we are not, anymore, and you had a hand in that.